Archive for the ‘irishblogs’ Category

and we’re back (kind of)

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

On Friday I logged into my GoDaddy control panel and changed the dns settings on ten of my domains and on this one too. I did not mean to do this one. I changed them back quickly but as a result the dns settings fell off the Internet and this site is still unavailable to anyone on eircom.net or IOLBroadband. Fuckity fuck. I’ve done some tweaking on my own computer thanks to advice from Conor and so now I can blog and I have so much to empty out of my brain.

Steven celebrated the first birthday of his blog and threw a question out to his readers about blogging and what would we do if we didn’t blog. I kind of gave a long meandering answer:

Blogging consumes me but if it wasn’t blogging it’d be something else. There’ll always be something else. Many of us have this personality trait and I guess technology has brought us together.

Blogging helps me remove thoughts from my head that would only go stale and start to smell in there. A smell worse than gone-off milk. I blog about these thoughts and ideas and share them with my audience who really I feel are friends. Friends who I sit in a room with the TV on but turned down and eventually gets turned off. It’s a dark winter evening and the temperature is just a little too warm so many of us have flushed cheeks. In this room which is really the Blog O’Sphere we talk about different things and the conversation goes all around the place and moves on. The interesting thing though is that as this happens some in this large group restart or add to previous parts of the conversations and in a very quantum way we chat about new things, present things and old things all at the same time but yet none of us talk over the other. Once those thoughts are out of my head and shared I am happy to move on and allow fresh thoughts to run around the head until it is time again to do the blogging equivalent of the little teapot song and tip my head over and pour the ideas out. So, maybe blogging keeps me sane or less insane?

This is blogging to me. I’m sure I’ll have slumps where I don’t blog but in that time I’m sure my obsessive personality is concentrating on something else.

And with that I have about 6 blog posts to write.

and for my next t-shirt purchase

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

threadless

The French Army Knife. Handy that I just threw out about 20 t-shirts tonight. (By threw out I mean gave them away.)

Aine Chambers is a legend – Sligo’s Dame of Tourism

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

Aine Chambers guides you around the sights and scenery of Sligo via her Sligo Tourism website.

Aine Chambers

Check out her video guides to Sligo.

Lissadel beach and a special Christmas message are some of the more fun ones.

I’m now hearing rumours that these vids will be on Podge and Rodge soon. Let’s make her number one in Google for the search phrase “Sligo”. Link to her site with the phrase Sligo Tourism.

Ambrand has linked to Swimwear with the Irish Tricolour. Cringetastic!

EDIT: Hello MetaFilter readers

Amazon announce 450 jobs for Cork

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

Amazon coming to Cork Airport 450 jobs. Sounds like customer service jobs. Will they offer free posatge in Ireland now? C’mon lads.

Smashing the Broadband excuses

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

As part of the IrelandOffline submission to the Department of Communications I compiled a list of the most common excuses used by the Govt and eircom/ComReg as to why we are the donkey(donk-E) of Europe when it comes to broadband.

Facts, figures and PR machines spinning overtime.

One of the reasons we believe we are in such a dire situation in Ireland when it comes to broadband is the insistence by so many groups that there is nothing wrong with the broadband market in Ireland. Problems cannot be addressed if they are not given recognition. Forfas have reported how bad we are, they gave solutions. The Information Society Commission issued reports and suggestions as did the Oireachtas report on broadband. Many reports and many valid suggestions have been made but the majority of the recommendations have never been carried out.

Growth Rates
Claiming to have one of the highest growth rates in the EU to make it appear we are doing well is disingenuous. If the penetration rate of Ireland is 5% and we have a growth rate of 100% it means we are going to go up to 10%. A country with a penetration rate of 25% and a growth rate of 60% will boost the penetration rate to 40%. Ireland is being lapped and lapped again by every developed country in the world. Patting ourselves on the back for a high growth rate is deceptive and dishonest.

The fungible excuses of no cable competition, starting late, telecoms bubble bursting, population density, pc penetration and lack of demand need to cease. These excuses can easily be shot down as will be shown in the next few paragraphs.

Cable Competition
The excuse of not having cable competition as a reason for Ireland being a world joke when it comes to broadband penetration does not hold weight. Cable is not the cause of worldwide broadband penetration increases. Many countries have aspired to high penetration rates without cable. A cable famine is another excuse and deflection of the truth.

Telecoms Bubble Bursting
Additionally the technology and telecoms “bubble� “bursting� is used to explain why we were a late starter in the area of broadband. The telecoms market and the bubble bursting were not localized to Ireland. Every country felt it and some even more so than Ireland. Those same countries are way ahead of us now. Why is that?

Population Density
Population density is another favoured excuse for rollout issues and as a result low broadband adoption in Ireland. Many of the Scandinavian populations are less dense than Ireland and have much better broadband penetration rates. Northern Ireland has 100% availability and a penetration rate than the Republic. Same geography, same population density.

PC Penetration
PC Penetration is fast becoming the favoured excuse for lack of broadband penetration. The excuse runs that since we have low PC usage we have low broadband usage. PCs are now primarily network access devices. Why buy an expensive device if you cannot use it for what you want it to do? Consumers are being blamed for lack of broadband penetration because they are not buying PCs. Have consumers ever been blamed for poor mobile network coverage because they are not buying enough handsets? Meteor built out their network and generated almost 100% coverage and as latest figures showed their customer base jumped a large amount.

Irish consumers use Playstations and X-Boxes more than any other nation in the world apart from Japan. We adore technology but we are not stupid. We would not buy something that we could not use. We will not buy a PC if we cannot get high speed Internet to amke use of it.

Staying with the X-box theme – you cannot blame the lack of X-Boxes for lack of games being sold if it transpires that the number of games out there were severely limited and only a certain percentage of the population could access the shops where the games were sold. Yet this backwards excuse is used about PCs and broadband. Build a broadband network that reaches all and PC usage will jump. The corollary is not true.

Lack of Demand
A very hostile and silly excuse for low penetration rates is lack of demand. We do not for one single second believe this to be true. We instead believe it to be convenient for avoiding the hard work of getting Ireland from bottom to near the top of all the broadband league tables.

ISDN usage has increased not decreased. It should be obvious why this is. People want broadband and cannot get it and resort to expensive ISDN. Satellite usage is increasing not decreasing again because people need something like broadband and resort to a inferior and horribly expensive system to get them close to what they need. Why would people pay €1000 install fee and minimum €70 a month for such a service if it wasn’t because they need broadband or fax-broadband services and will pay so much for something that isn’t broadband but is better than dialup.

The IrelandOffline survey showed the majority they surveyed who were on dialup (circa 400 people) wanted broadband but could not get it. The Chamber of Commerce of Ireland recently showed that 30% of businesses who wanted to upgrade to broadband could not do so because of the lack of availability of broadband. Anytime there is a radio piece on broadband the switchboards are bombarded by people who cannot get broadband. There is not a lack of demand, there is a lack of believing there is demand.

Unless the energy put into creatively coming up with excuses for the current situation is channeled into something more constructive, we will be held back from moving forward.

Pisstake of Sony Ad

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

Brilliant!

Mac Mini is now a media centre and iPod HiFi is out

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Mac Mini is now a media centre

PC Penetration in Ireland – questions/answers

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

A while back I was asked four questions by a journalist for a story on PC Penetration and Internet Access. Below are the questions and my answers to them. I think some of these answers were in the Indo though they were edited down. The below answers are a bit of a rant 🙂

1. Despite the Government’s best efforts to project Ireland’s image as the Silicon Valley of Europe, PC penetration in Ireland stands at only 42pc compared with Sweden 56pc and the US at 82pc. What efforts should the Irish Government, Irish businesses and Irish citizens make to boost PC penetration?

In every other developed nation a PC is a multi-use product. It is there for doing administrative tasks, entertainment and most importantly communicating. What is the point of buying a PC in Ireland if all it becomes is an expensive word processor or aid to doing your accounts?

With the likes of broadband, PCs are used for tuning into radio and TV stations from all over the world, for talking to people in America or China using VOIP, for updating blogs, for downloading software that will make you do your work more efficiently, for connecting to the office from home and accessing all your documents and working on them over the Net. Why buy a sports car when you’re restricted to winding down the windows in your drive because the normal roads are too narrow to drive down or the nice and wide toll roads cost more per year to use than the car? That’s what Irish people have to deal with. Large unavailability of broadband and dialup rates prohibitively expensive.

It isn’t like Irish people are luddites or are afraid of technology. We don’t fear the beige or black boxes under the desk. In Ireland X-Box and Playstation ownership per head of population is one of the highest in the world. We love our mobiles and are addicted to texting. We’d love our computers too and use them a lot more if we could make full use of them but we can’t because of connectivity.

The government needs to make Internet Access affordable and available so that people can get value for money out of their pcs. At this stage too the Government should consider creating incentives for purchasing PCs but unless connectivity is also resolved they will only be used to gather dust.

Irish Businesses should train all staff on PC usage and if possible encourage teleworking. They should also continue making noise about Internet costs and availability like both the Chambers of Commerce and ISME have been
doing.

2. At 37pc (according to ComReg’ most recent Trends Survey) Ireland’s internet penetration hasn’t increased in the past two years. In terms of broadband, Eurostat has claimed that Ireland has a penetration rate of 1.7pc compared with the European average of 12pc. What should/could be done to resolve this?

While broadband uptake is increasing, Internet usage is staying the same. This seems to suggest that we are not encouraging new people to use the Internet but merely converting dialup Internet users into broadband Internet users. This is quite worrying and would suggest that we are going to hit a brick wall soon where broadband uptake will just cease. We need to get more people using the net and this means making it useful for them, making it available to them and making it affordable.

I think we find ourselves in a chicken in an egg situation. The PC penetration rate is blamed for the low Internet access rate when it could actually be the other way around as I previously mentioned.

We need to make Internet access cheaper. IrelandOffline wants to see per minute dialup banned and replaced with flatrate dialup products. We want people to enjoy going online via dialup or broadband and the always-on, flatfee model that most broadband products offer is the way to go for dialup and broadband.

Remove the fear of unknown and potentially massive Internet bills and more people will go online and stay online and as a result will quickly start finding new potential uses for the Net that they didn’t know about before. Every Net user could potentially be an ambassador for the Internet and could be used to ecnourage other Irish people to go online.

All government services should be offered online. We have some good E-Government initiatives like the CAO website, the Motor Tax website and the Revenue website. There are 100s more services that could be offered to Irish Citizens. Online billing should also be the norm for any service and not just government services.

Companies could help here too by allowing personal online time for employees, encouraging them to become proficient at using the net which could encourage them to get the Internet at home.

3. How damaging could low PC and broadband penetration be for Ireland’s long term competitiveness?

We are being lapped when it comes to broadband usage and Internet usage. Already we are seeing a lot of customer service jobs being lost to countries like India. As technology advances and more and more services and jobs can be done via a net connection and a broadband connection we could see an exodus of other jobs going to cheaper countries. Wait until China comes online with a billion very educated people and who are highly skilled in computers and Internet usage. We still have the potential to restart our Knowledge Economy but if we leave it much later we’ll just be fighting for the scraps that China and India throw us.

4. Does a digital divide exist in Ireland and if so in what areas? How can such a digital divide be bridged?

There’s a digital divide in the UK according to their own Government reports and they are one of the leading countries when it comes to PC usage, E-Government and broadband availability. We had a divide before the rest of the developed world sped away from us, now we have an ever-widening Digital Chasm.

The gap between the haves and the have nots when it comes to Internet Access is widening. Some 80% of Internet users in Ireland are still using dialup. The average cost of Internet access before line-rental is around €Â€36 according to ComReg.

180 hours of dialup costs €€26.99 a month and 3 euros an hour thereafter and the same ISP can now provide always-on 1mb broadband to their customers for €20 a month. So those who can get broadband are now finding it getting cheaper and cheaper and speeds are increasing but those unable to get it and lets be clear, some are guaranteed to never get it unless they move to an urban area, those consumers are stuck with dialup speeds which are awful and the cost of these products have remained unchanged for years. We have asked the regulator to look into a reduction in the costs of wholesale flatrate but they do not seem to think there is a need.

We need to lower the barriers to entry so that costs do not scare people away from the digital world and we also need to make the digital world available to all.

The model to look at for this is Estonia. A 2nd world country that in a few years became the shining light in Europe when it came to ICT usage.

See this powerpoint presentation from an Estonian consultant:

As of end of 2004:

* PC penetration 68%
* Internet penetration 54%
* 100% of schools connected
* 100% of public sector connected
* 80% of all businesses connected
* 729 PIAP (Public Internet Access Points)

If we want to be serious about having a knowledge economy then we need to build the infrastructure for one and it really isn’t rocket science at this stage. We’ve been spending billions on roads to deflect traffic away from the big cities yet 1000s move to these cities to work and set up business when they could be doing it from home. If we spent a fraction of what is spent on roads ever year to make teleworking a genuine possibility in this country then we could achieve the ambitions of those that dream with open eyes.

“the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible” – T. E. Lawrence

At this rate every journo was at the riots

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Kevin mentions another journo was at the Dublin riots. Roisín is added to an ever expanding list of people who can say “You weren’t there man, you don’t know what it was like, I was in ‘Nam mannnn” or some other such crap. I read the local rag known as the Evening Echo and one of their columnists happened to be there too. Does anyone feel that at this rate O’Connell street was busier than Christmas and packed full of journalists? I dunno but I’m getting slightly suspicious. See, I’d trust bloggers more at this stage and the photos and eyewitness testimony within a few short hours are proof for me. Reminds me of the stories about people claiming they were at Woodstock.

Lets go through all those photos that were taken and see can we spot any of these journos who now claim they were there.

Govt says consumers fault for lack of broadband – Do you disagree?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

The Government have are holding a public consultation about broadband demand. They’re basically framing the consultation as lack of demand being the reason why Ireland is one of the worst developed countries for broadband usage. Naturally the word bollox is in neon in my mind. The consultation closes tomorrow. I greatly encourage anyone that reads this to send in their views. Even if you have broadband already it is well worth telling the Govt it is not a demand problem it is a supply problem. We all know people that want broadband and cannot get it. Below is an email I sent to the IrelandOffline mailing list.

Minister Noel Dempsey and the Department of Communications have initiated a public consultation asking you, the consumer, for your opinions on broadband in Ireland. We in IrelandOffline greatly encourage you to view the consultation and send your thoughts to the Minister on this.

The Department are framing this consultation as if there isn’t enough demand for broadband and that is the reason Ireland has one of the worst records in the developed world for broadband usage. We think they are wholly incorrect and our own submission that we will send in next week will say this in no uncertain terms. If you are unable to get broadband and think the Government should be addressing this need then please reply to the consultation.

You can read the consultation here.

There are 33 questions and suggested answers/discussion points but you do not need to answer any or all of these. You can simply give your experience and demand change.

Your submissions should be marked ‘Broadband Demand’ and emailed to the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources at information@broadband.gov.ie by 1st March 2006. Please also ask for them to confirm receipt of your submission.

Please send a copy of your submission to info@irelandoffline.org too